Monthly Archives: February 2006

Sixth Homicide of 2006

Yesterday the mother of 27-year-old Pepper Jones entered a house on South 56th and Thompson with two police officers. She hadn’t heard from her daughter in a few days and had become concerned. What they found inside the home was the body of Pepper Jones, mother of one, dead in her bathtub, the victim of what police called ‘obvious homicidal violence’.
Pepper had bought the house last summer with her husband, Jason. Neighbors don’t report a history of disturbances of any sort. Her six year old daughter was staying with relatives this weekend. Jason was nowhere to be found. Also missing is the couple’s  red 1994 Kia Optima, Washington License Plate 381-SLT.
One thing you don’t want to do if your wife turns up dead, is be missing. It just doesn’t look good because odds are either you killed her or your body is somewhere waiting to be found. Also, in general despite the whole ‘death do us part’ thing, it’s best not to kill your spouse. No matter what happens if your spouse is killed, you’re the first person they look at and they’ll look really hard.
South 56th Street and Thomspon isn’t the best part of Tacoma. It’s the South Side and bad things happen on the South Side. You can buy a decent house on the South Side of Tacoma for under $175,000. And there are definate reasons for that.
In the North End, anything under $200,000 is a steal. The divide between North End and South End is real enough that they’re effectively two cities that share a downtown. The house the murder occurred in was about two miles from the house I grew up in. Most of the kids I went to Elementary and Middle School with became victims or crime or criminals themselves. This is why I went to high school in the North End. Some of my high school friends had parents who wouldn’t let them come to my house because of where it was.
The South Side isn’t all bad. Like any shady area of town, if you live there, it’s actually friendlier than most areas of the city. You know your neighbors and watch out for each other. When I lived on the South Side I knew almost everyone on my block. Now that I live in the North End, I don’t even know everyone in my building.
Lately some of my friends who’ve lived most of their lives in the North End are moving to the South Side of Tacoma because housing is affordable. Personally I don’t plan on ever living there again, but it can be a nice place to visit if you watch your back.

Red to Black

Last night Tacoma police arrested a man for the three murders two weeks ago. Another suspect is already in custody on an unrelated charge. And a third suspect is still at large. It’s no surprise that this crime has been solved. Though it couldn’t have been easy. Reports say that people were going in and out of that house long after the murders occurred.
There’s a reason drug murders are difficult to solve. Most of the people you need to talk to are drug users, drug dealers, or both. They aren’t reliable and they aren’t the sort of people who tell the truth to cops. Once people found out everyone in that house was dead, the most important thing wasn’t to call the cops. It was to get any drugs or money out of that house as soon as possible.
Like Hunter S. Thompson said, "You can turn your back on a friend but never turn your back on a drug."
So with these murders solved the homicide clearance rate for Tacoma goes straight to 60%.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Homicides of 2006

So part of the idea of chronicling the homicide rate in Tacoma in 2006 was to show the world at large that Tacoma really isn’t all that bad of a place. Unfortunately the criminals of Tacoma refuse to let me actually do that.

Yesterday, someone knocked on the door of a friend’s house a few blocks away from the University of Puget Sound. There was no answer, but the door was unlocked. He walked in and found not one, not two, but three dead bodies. All of a sudden the murder rate for Tacoma has more than doubled. Technically these are homicides 3, 4, and 5. Two men and a woman, all in their twenties.

Police aren’t saying much right now. Just that they died of ‘homicidal violence’. And since they aren’t saying much, everything I’m about to say is pure speculation.

I’d be willing to bet this one might actually get solved. You see, where the killer made the mistake was in killing more than one person. If you shoot a guy in Tacoma, you might get away with it. But you shoot two guys and a girl in a house by the local college, well that’s what cops like to call a Red Ball. The other thing the killer has going against him is that there aren’t a lot of reasons to kill three people. One person, there’s a hundred reasons. Two people, it’s probably some sort of love triangle. Fourteen people, hey, you’re a serial killer. But three? You’re looking at something that’s most likely drug related and really whatever it was, it wasn’t professional. Drug dealers want to make money. Cops running around trying to solve a triple homicide make that difficult.

Anyway, we’re now a third of the way to matching last year’s homicide rate and we’re only on the second month of the year. -Jack